Date:Saturday June 19 2010
England's lack lustre display against Algeria yesterday will soon be forgotten (I hope) by all that had the 'privilege' to see it. But for Pompey fans it will be remembered for the day a fifty six year record was broken.
It was back in July 1954 in the quarter final defeat to Uruguay that Jimmy Dickinson became the last (and only) Pompey player to represent England in the World Cup finals. In fact Jim played five games at the 1950 and 1954 finals including the infamous defeat to USA at Belo Horizonte which we were all reminded of last weekend.
Since then a number of players have represented England while at Fratton Park including the great Len Phillips, Mark Hateley, Glen Johnson, Sol Campbell, Peter Crouch and Jermain Defoe but none had played in the final tournament.
It was to be David James' fifty first cap and probably his quietest as Algeria sat deep, harried the England players out of their stride and played with a passion their more illustrious opponents could not match. He will certainly start the vital game with Slovenia on Wednesday, in fact I would say he is the only certain name on under pressure Fabio Capello's team sheet.
David's international career now stretches back over twenty years since his U21 debut when he was at Watford, his full international debut came as a Liverpool player in March 1997 in a 2-0 win over Mexico at Wembley. James has never been the regular keeper however for long periods being understudy to both David Seaman and Paul Robinson over the intervening spell.
His only real mistakes were in Austria in September 2004 and in allowing himself to play the dreaded second half in Copenhagen in an August 2005 friendly when Denmark walked in four goals.
He has been Capello's first choice however through the Italian's rein as England coach with only injuries punctuating his selection but is this World Cup his England swansong? He is remarkably fit for a man who will be forty on 1st August and trains harder than any of his team mates at club level often staying on the training ground well after the other squad members are back in the comfort of the dressing room.
There is no doubt the nickname 'Calamity James' was one earned from respect for a goalkeeper who in his younger days would make brilliant save after brilliant save and then suffer an inexplicable loss of concentration and gift opponents a simple goal. Liverpool fans who gave him the tag still talk about their ex player with great affection and rank him up with their great custodians. James has made great efforts to eradicate those lapses but every no and again they come along.
James is much more than simply a footballer. Life is rarely quiet with this eloquent man around who has so many other interests. From Art to Environmentalist (he runs his car on rapeseed oil), from Charity work to writing children`s books and newspaper articles.
Hairstyles are also something David specialises in, you never know what he will look like next. In a game at the end of last season he was wearing a what looked like a mop on his head which got the visiting fans behind him chanting Tina, Tina in deference to his likeness to Tina Turner. James responded by giving the thumbs up to his tormentors. Before the semi final with Spurs I asked him what hairstyle he would be sporting at Wembley. He replied 'not sure, might shave it all off'.
Certainly those of us at Pompey hope we can see Jamo play for several more seasons yet as the game needs characters and he is certainly a very big one and like a fine wine he has improved with age.
Date:Saturday June 19 2010
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